Just two weeks after announcing their iconic Bettendorf restaurant would be sold, Ross’ co-owner Cynthia Freidhof passed away.

Freidhof, 72, of Bettendorf, died peacefully on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at home surrounded by her family, according to her obituary.

Services will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, at Heritage Church, Bettendorf, with Rev. Stephanie Ward officiating. Cremation will take place at Trimble Crematory, Moline, under the direction of Trimble Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to the Heritage Church Mission Fund.

Cynthia Freidhof is pictured with former President Barack Obama, as he greets patrons as he stops for lunch at Ross’ Restaurant in Bettendorf, June 28, 2011. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

In mid-October, Ross’ Restaurant in Bettendorf announced it was being put up for sale as its owners were retiring. Ron and Cynthia Freidhof retired after over 50 years of running Ross’, which has been at 2297 Falcon Avenue in Bettendorf since 2015.

“Over the past few days, friends shared wonderful ways of describing her: ‘world traveler, spirit of adventure, fearless, full of light and fun, the life of the party, a woman who loved God, her family and dear friends, a unique sense of style that always involved a hat, a lover of people who could connect with anyone in a matter of minutes, as someone who loved music, she could have the worst seats to a concert and would always end up in the front row anyway, or even dancing on stage’,” Freidhof’s daughter Melissa posted on Facebook.

“To me she was my magical mama and although we had a challenging relationship at times, these last few months with her have healed all wounds, and are the biggest and most beautiful blessing I could have ever asked for,” she wrote.

“My wife and I have realized that when you love what you do, there is never a perfect time to step away,” Ron Freidhof said last month in announcing the plans to sell Ross’. “But we aren’t getting any younger and we have realized that life is short.

Ron and Cynthia Freidhof (courtesy of Melissa Friedhof)

“After 50 incredible and memorable years in the restaurant business, my wife and I are ready to travel, enjoy our retirement and more time with our grandchildren,” he said.

Ross’ has been one of the most notable spots for visitors to the Quad Cities, with its long history of celebrity visitors and presidential candidates during the Iowa caucuses. Among the most memorable visitors was former President Barack Obama, who made a surprise stop to Ross’ in June of 2011.

The 85-year-old restaurant, founded by Harold Ross in 1938, moved to the Falcon Avenue location in 2015, after selling its downtown property to the Iowa Department of Transportation, due to eminent domain and the restaurant being directly in the path of the I-74 bridge construction.

The former Cynthia Lee Ross was born Oct. 30, 1951, in Davenport, the daughter of Harold Lyle and Sylvia “June” (Scudder) Ross. She graduated from Davenport Central High School and Iowa State University. She married the love of her life, Ronald Freidhof, on June 9, 1973, in Bettendorf.

Cynthia Freidhof died at age 72 on Nov. 2, 2023.

Cynthia, alongside her devoted husband, was the proud owner and heart of Ross’ Restaurant for over 50 years. Under their stewardship, Ross’ became known as the “Home of the Magic Mountain,” leaving an indelible mark on the local community and visitors alike, including presidential candidates, her obituary says.

Foodie Friday: Ross' Restaurant
Ross’ Restaurant moved to Falcon Avenue in Bettendorf in 2015.

She often expressed her appreciation for having the best staff and customers in the world.

“Fearless in her pursuits, Cynthia had a unique style that was entirely her own,” the obit says. “She held a deep affection for her numerous friends, actively engaging in her book club and making an individual impact in everything she endeavored. Her philanthropic spirit shone through her volunteering efforts with hospice and the Bettendorf schools. Cynthia was a proud member of Heritage Church, Bettendorf, and PEO.

“An adventurer at heart, Cynthia possessed an unparalleled ability to connect with anyone she met, forging bonds within moments. Her love for travel and exploration was only surpassed by her love for her family, especially her adored grandchildren,” the obituary continued.

Freidhof is survived by her loving husband of over 50 years, Ronald Freidhof; three children: Melissa (Josh Cox) Freidhof-Rodgers of Davenport, Kelli (Scott Tawse) Koschmann of Oak Park, Ill., and Rylan Freidhof of Scottsdale, Ariz., and four grandchildren.